PITTSFORD - We've reached double digits in days here at St. John Fisher College, with the Buffalo Bills' preseason opener only three days away. Sean McDermott makes his in-game head-coaching debut Thursday at 7 p.m. when his team hosts the Minnesota Vikings at New Era Field.
Until then, the Bills trudge away in the heat, working through offensive kinks and defensive injuries under its revamped staff. Day 10's takeaways include an injury to a key cornerback, quarterback inaccuracy, the backup running back situation and more.
1. Two new injuries
Second-year cornerback Kevon Seymour hopped by on crutches Monday morning with a boot on his right foot. The Bills said the USC product is day-to-day with a foot injury. After practice, Seymour walked around without crutches outside the training facility.
Some lesser names got to shine during live action in Seymour's absence. Charles James intercepted Nathan Peterman over the middle and Bradley Sylve continued his strong work as a second-team cornerback. Our Jay Skurski currently projects Sylve, the former Alabama defensive back who hasn't played football in a year due to an Achilles injury, as the first cut among the cornerback group.
Elsewhere on the injury front, wide receiver Jeremy Butler left the field with a trainer early Monday and didn't return. Aside from Sammy Watkins, no receivers have emerged as standouts for Buffalo. Zay Jones is a solid No. 2 right now, but like several position groups, the Bills don't have much depth in their receiving corps.
The Monday signing of Anquan Boldin should help that issue.
2. Watkins was a full go today
After the Bills' top wideout avoided an injury scare Sunday afternoon when twisting his ankle while over-running a curl route, he was back on the practice field without limitations on Monday.
"I’ll be out here tomorrow probably catching passes, scoring," Watkins said Sunday. "I’ll be fine."
That he was, featuring an acrobatic one-handed grab during the early portion of practice and another nice haul on a slant route during 11-on-11 work later in the morning when catches were few and far between for Bills receivers.
— Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) August 7, 2017
3. Quarterback play continues to be iffy
During the first portion of 11-on-11 work, the three quarterbacks combined to go 5-for-12 on passing plays with two "sacks," - when coaches blow the whistle to signal the end of the play since the defense can't tackle quarterbacks. It took seven passing plays to finally convert. Peterman hit tight end Jason Croom for a short completion, but his next throw was intercepted by a leaping James in the middle of the field.
"Just getting into the timing and the rhythm of the offense," Peterman said after practice of where the offense is at. "Gotta protect the football."
Tyrod Taylor completed two passes, to LeSean McCoy and Watkins, in the first portion of 11-on-11 work and backup T.J. Yates found Brandon Tate and Charles Clay. During a one minute, 25-second drill, only the first team managed to drive all the way down the field. Taylor found Clay for a touchdown, but the score came after Taylor's pass was tipped by cornerback Leonard Johnson and it fell into the hands of a stumbling Clay.
"Tyrod trusted me in that situation," Clay said. "The more I can continue to make plays like that for him and for the team, the more I can just continue to build that trust.
"It's always big to finish out the end of a practice and to push through and to finish the two-minute drill with a touchdown."
Taylor was head and shoulders above his inferiors during the drill, completing six of his seven passes en route to the touchdown while Yates and Peterman struggled to string together any substantial yardage.
4. Jonathan Williams still "ironing some things out"
The Bills tweeted out Monday that their backup running back "might be a lock" with a video of Williams.
There's a steep drop-off between McCoy and the second-year back out of Arkansas, with Williams striving to close that gap by the time games come around. He's tasked with replacing Mike Gillislee, who scored nine total touchdowns behind McCoy last year before signing with the New England Patriots this offseason.
According to offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, his likely No. 2 running back is still "ironing some things out" but impressing in his adjustment to his second offense in two professional years.
"In the spring we had some discussions, just with (running backs coach) Kelly (Skipper) and I, trying to get a few things straightened out and I think he's really done that," Dennison said. "He's focused on the things we thought would help him out and he's done those."
Dennison wouldn't elaborate on the specifics of his discussion, but Williams shed some light on what they may have been. Last year, he only had 28 touches but fumbled twice.
"That's everybody's money. That's affecting the whole team," Williams said of ball security. "It's always something that I'm thinking about mentally ... I walk around here, I have a football in my room."
5. An Olympic champion stopped by St. John Fisher
Jordan Burroughs, a 2012 Olympic wrestling gold medalist, watched Bills practice on Monday. His wife is from Buffalo and converted him from a Broncos fan to a Bills fan when they met. His two kids, son Beacon and daughter Ora, wore McCoy and Watkins jerseys on the sideline.
Burroughs spoke with the team after practice and stayed well after to chat with players. Second-year offensive lineman Jordan Mudge stopped by to talk since he used to wrestle, and the two chatted for about 10 minutes. Safety Bacarri Rambo then met Burroughs, thanking him for his speech as a handful of players did after Monday morning's session ended.
Burroughs collected as many signatures as he could on a Bills football and said he's giving it to his son.
6. What is the Bills' schedule for the rest of the week?
The team will hold practice at 8:45 Tuesday morning and it's open to the public. Wednesday's activities are closed to the media and public as the Bills prepare for Thursday's preseason opener against the Vikings.